Born: Oct 26, 1965
Styles: Modern Electric Blues
Bernard Allison is the guitar-playing, singing and songwriting son of the late, legendary blues guitarist Luther Allison. True to form for this chip off the old block, the young Allison injects every bit as much energy into his live shows as his late father did.
Bernard counts among his influences icons like Albert King, Muddy Waters and Freddie King, and later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter.
Allison began accompanying his famous father to blues festivals in the early 1970s. There, he was introduced to a who's-who of Chicago blues stars: Muddy Waters, Hound Dog Taylor and Albert King, among others. When he was seven or eight, he began having aspirations of becoming a guitar slinger like his father. Allison's father was more than just a casual record collector, and so Bernard benefited from his father and brothers' collections of classic blues and gospel.
After graduating from high school, Allison began playing with Koko Taylor in her touring band. He stayed with Taylor's band until 1985, when he left to hustle up his own gigs as Bernard Allison and Back Talk. Allison spent a lot of time in Canada with his first band, and later rejoined Taylor and her Blues Machine for another two years in the late 1980s.
After joining his father in Europe for a live recording, Bernard was asked to join Luther's touring band and become his European bandleader. Allison's father helped his son along with the finer points of showmanship for several years until he was good enough to lead his own trio or quartet. At Christmas, 1989, while both were living together in Paris, the elder Allison arranged to give his son the most precious gift for budding musicians: studio time to record his first album. Allison's debut, Next Generation, was recorded for Mondo Records using musicians from his dad's band. His other foreign-label releases include Hang On, No Mercy, and Funkifino.
In December 1996, Allison was contacted by Cannonball Records founder Ron Levy. Allison was home in Chicago visiting family at Christmas, and hadn't brought any of his guitars or other equipment with him. Levy wanted something based in traditional electric blues, with a few bones for newer fans of the idiom who have jumped on the blues bandwagon since 1990. Allison released his stunning U.S. debut, Keepin' the Blues Alive in early 1997, receiving a great deal of critical acclaim. On his successful tour of clubs around the U.S. in the latter half of 1997, Allison was joined by drummer Ray "Killer" Allison (no relation) and Buddy Guy bassist Greg Rzab, among others. Times Are Changing followed a year later. In mid-2000, cross the Water was released. Based in Paris full-time, he has the comfort and security that the multitude of blues clubs and festivals around Europe can provide.
- Richard Skelly (All Music Guide)